Gulf War Illness and Traumatic Brain Injury.

New research confirms a link between physical changes and brain fibers that process pain. This new study concludes that veterans, compared to unaffected subjects, have significant axonal damage.

Medical symptoms have been reported by more than one-fourth of the 697,000 veterans deployed to the 1990-1991 Persian Gulf War. These symptoms, termed Gulf War Illness, range from mild to severe or debilitating and can include widespread pain, fatigue, and headache, as well as cognitive and gastrointestinal dysfunctions.

Gulf War Illness was most prevalent in veterans who served in forward areas of Iraq and Kuwait, where it was most strongly associated with use of a medication given to 1991 Gulf War troops.  Taking medications were designed to protect troops from effects of nerve agents. The study found that Gulf War Illness prevalence was nearly six times higher in veterans who served in Iraq or Kuwait, where all ground battles took place during the 1991 conflict, compared to veterans who remained on board ship during the war.

A potential biomarker for Gulf War Illness may be on the horizon as well as a possible target for therapy aimed at regenerating these neurons.